SAP has garnered a positive, ambitious, and exciting community around itself in terms of professionals who are always looking for the next step.
This makes becoming an SAP expert an excellent opportunity for anyone who likes to network within the context of a common professional element. SAP gives a natural starting point to professionals who like to meet one another and understand the ways in which each other works.
However, there’s a catch that some notice in the SAP community: Because everyone tends to be a high-performer in one way or another, it can be a challenge to stand out among the rest of the high-performers.
So what can you do to make the most of your SAP networking opportunities?
Here are a few tips that you can try.
Like many professional communities, the SAP community thrives on professionals building bridges among one another.
This metaphor of “building bridges” refers to meeting new people, engaging with them in some meaningful way, and making an effort to stay in contact with them.
The results of building bridges are strong, positive relationships among professionals where they may be able to help one another advance their careers through knowing one another.
In this regard, building bridges is perhaps the most integral part of the networking process in general. But for SAP, it bears mentioning because the community can be smaller than more general communities like web developers, salespeople, or human resources specialists.
By engaging with another SAP professional, you’ve already started creating a relationship that could become a valuable part of your career and even your life.
Active listening is the concept of hearing what someone says, processing it quickly, and making associations between it and other concepts that you know.
For example, someone saying that they’ve recently started working with SAP ABAP would mean that they work in programming. But by actively listening, you can also ascertain that this person may have worked with one or more of the languages used in ABAP prior to working in SAP. So in this case, someone may say that they’ve recently started working with ABAP for the first time, and you may ask if they have a history with the programming languages that comprise ABAP — Java, C, C++, or Python.
This is the kind of question that has the potential to make you stick out in someone’s memory because you’ve asked about something beneath the “surface” of the conversation. You showed that you have a knowledge of someone else’s field, and now they may feel more apt to share their thoughts and work with you.
Also, this networking tip incorporates another opportunity that every SAP professional has when they’re at a public event.
When you’re networking with other SAP professionals, most of your time will be spent talking and listening.
However, that doesn’t mean you should talk about yourself. After all, there are plenty of professionals who want to discuss their own achievements and work.
But there are few professionals who understand the value of asking questions to someone else.
Asking questions in this context doesn’t just mean asking about someone’s name or employer. Instead, it attempts to take you beneath the surface of a conversation, just like active listening.
Let’s go back to our example of speaking with an ABAP developer. If they say they’ve just started working with ABAP, you may ask them how long they’ve been working in programming, how they came to find ABAP, or what they’ve been able to do with it.
This last question — asking what someone can do with their skill set — is especially valuable since you encourage someone to talk about the points of their career about which they’re the proudest.
This again gives you the chance to stand out in someone’s memory as you encourage them to share positive and impactful parts of their history with you.
Still, there’s one more networking tip that has the potential to do more for you than even these others.
Most people have a “feather in their cap” from some point in their life. An executive may talk about the time he or she played in a college band and opened for a famous group. A content producer may talk about the time they were able to take a seminar from a famous writer.
For SAP professionals, they may especially talk about the things they’re able to make or do with SAP software.
Some of this work can be truly remarkable in its nature, as SAP is such a customizable system that there are no firm limits to what it can do.
As a result, one of the best things you can do to help network with other SAP professionals is to use SAP to solve a common problem, fix a common issue, or otherwise remedy a negative situation.
Depending on what you do, it may not only be good party talk — it could also be the beginning of you building bridges with others, actively listening to what they have to say, and asking more about their work.
Depending on your career path or specialty, you should have a wide wide variety of ultra-specific learning opportunities that can help you take your career to the next level and further stand out from the field.
Then, you can start doing the high-grade work that will earn you the recognition and notoriety that you want to continue networking among SAP professionals — complete with a pet project that you can use to showcase your expert skills.
It takes time and work, but as you grow with your SAP skills, you can truly stand out from the crowd and earn some accolades for yourself. And be sure to show off these skills and certifications on your resume and on Linkedin.
These five tips are just the tip of the iceberg, but they will help you get noticed in the exciting field of SAP, and network with a positive, ambitious, and exciting community.
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